Why settle for business class? Cunard proves that classic luxury is alive, well, and thriving at sea.
Tread lightly, when you dance across the wooden flooring of the Queens Room ballroom on board Cunard’s flagship Queen Mary 2. Those very boards have been meticulously attended to in a far more laborious manner, by a team of highly skilled craftsmen and women. Spare a moment, as you take in the Atlantic air and sunshine on the teak-decked Grills Terrace, for the similar level of careful attention paid to the woodwork beneath you. Consider, perhaps, over drinks, dinner and conversation, the upholstery, the tiling, the brass work and the just-so cornicing that gilds the ship’s classic sense of luxury. Or, then again, perhaps don’t. Cunard’s subtle, luxurious detailing adheres to the Roman poet Ovid’s line that “art lies in concealing art.”
Spend a few days on board one of Cunard’s liners, and you may, subtly, recalibrate your sense of the good life. For some guests, it begins when their suite’s butler unpacks their luggage and serves canapés. For others, the sense may grow taking in a performance in one of the on-board theatres, climbing the spiral staircase in the ship’s library on Queen Elizabeth and Queen Victoria, sitting back and admiring the celestial bodies in the planetarium on Queen Mary 2, or browsing Cunard’s enviable wine list.
The service and décor fare better than many of the finest hotels, resorts, theatres and restaurants, and Cunard’s are only likely to rise. Back in October, the luxury cruise line appointed the acclaimed, New York-based designer, Adam D Tihany - better known for his work at the Beverly Hills Hotel, Belmond Hotel Cipriani and The Oberoi New Delhi - as the creative director of Cunard’s new ship currently under construction. Tihany has also overseen the creation of restaurants for such notable chefs as Thomas Keller and Heston Blumenthal. So, don’t be too surprised if Cunard’s liners soon outshine some of your most treasured spots.
The company you keep on board these ships is also of a remarkably high standard. Novelists such as Louis de Bernières, Sebastian Faulks and Robert Harris join prominent figures from the worlds of fashion, astronomy, current affairs and the performing arts, to enrich the voyages with insightful, enlightening talks and lectures.
And, of course, no matter how closely a Cunard ship resembles the most luxurious landlocked destination in the world, none of those on-shore spots can offer a mid-Atlantic view of the night sky, a 360-degree sea view, or the opportunity to leisurely disembark and explore both well and little-known ports of call.
You can make these pleasant stints of shore leave as long or as short as you wish; Cunard’s liners are in port for an average of 10 and a half hours. Yet, if you find yourself wanting to return to your stateroom a little earlier than usual, Cunard would understand. Worse things happen at sea, they say. Cunard is proof that much, much better things take place there too.
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Photography by Cunard